About 4,200 miles after the first of 62 teams departed from Seattle’s Space Needle, the Old Glory Relay ended on Veterans Day in Tampa, Florida.
Teams of 800 runners, walkers and cyclists carried an American flag from the Northwest to the Southeast in an effort to raise awareness of veterans service organizations and their work supporting veterans. The route started in Washington state on September 11, heading south through Southern California before turning east and continuing through the Southwest and the Gulf Coast, ending in Tampa on November 11.
Team Red, White & Blue, a nonprofit that strives to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their communities through physical and social activity, presented the Old Glory Relay for the third consecutive year. Starbucks and the Schultz Family Foundation are among the event’s supporters and a number of Starbucks partners (employees) participated in the relay.
“Starbucks is proud to partner with Team Red, White & Blue to bring veterans, their families and American citizens together to support the Old Glory Relay,” said Virginia Bergin, vice president, Global Social Impact. “Running and cycling under the American flag for 4,000 miles across the country is a great way for veterans and civilians to come together for a shared purpose. Our Military Family Stores are designed to build a stronger connection between the military and communities and served as an ideal connection point between partners and relay teams to host Hail and Farewells.”
Melissa Ochs, district manager for the region around Camp Pendleton, was at a Starbucks Military Family Store in Oceanside, California, late in the morning of September 30 when she and two-dozen others waiting to greet the participating athletes heard U.S. Marines chanting as they neared the store with the flag held high.
“It gave me chills,” Ochs said. “The runner who they gave the flag to was an older gentleman. He was a veteran and he grabbed the flag and was out. The pride that every single person holding that flag or being a part of it demonstrated was heartwarming.”
Starbucks Allies with Veterans Service Organizations
The partnership between Starbucks and Team Red, White & Blue reflects the company’s commitment to creating opportunities for veterans as they transition from military service to civilian careers. Starbucks, which has hired 8,000 veterans and military spouses toward a goal of hiring 10,000 by the end of 2018, also partners with Team Rubicon, which deploys veterans to provide disaster relief; Blue Star Families, which addresses challenges to military families; and The Mission Continues, which empowers veterans adjusting to civilian life through community service.